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South Korea’s leading bio-tech companies join forces to establish 'Vaccine Innovation Council'

South Korea’s vaccine companies have decided to launch a “Vaccine Innovation Council” to establish vaccine sovereignty, enhance international competitiveness, and cooperate with the aim of strengthening research and development (R&D) capabilities in the vaccine industry.

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Vaccine Innovative Technology Alliance Korea hosted the launch ceremony for the Vaccine Innovation Council; 14 major Korean vaccine companies participated. The Council plans to conduct research on vaccine development, strengthen R&D capabilities, and cooperate with the government to produce countermeasures in the event of a national health crisis caused by infectious disease. The Council intends to help South Korea respond to future infectious diseases based on strengthened vaccine development capabilities.  

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea and United Kingdom sign MOU on preparing for future pandemics

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate with each other in preparing for future pandemics.

The two countries will cooperate in monitoring infectious diseases, risk assessment, responding to biological terrorism, and sharing pathogen information. They will also organize an annual high-level policy dialogue and expert meetings in addition to conducting research projects. Two commissioners from the two countries stressed that this future-oriented cooperation would help to solidify the health and security agenda and prepare for future pandemics.

News article – Maeil business (in Korean)

South Korean agencies hold major Council to discuss feasibility, consistency of grant projects in 2023

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) hosted the 'Grant Assistance Institutions Council, 2022', which discussed the upcoming year's grant projects.

30 relevant grant agencies, including government ministries and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), attended the Council to examine the feasibility of grant projects, consistency with major foreign policies, and the possibility of duplication and linkage.

The grant project candidates reported this year totaled US$2.71 billion (KRW2.65 trillion) - a 13.9% increase compared to the last year. This increase reflects the South Korean government’s strong commitment to supporting social and economic recovery and sustainable development within the international community during the COVID-19 era, during which it has been difficult to plan and pursue projects.  

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

News article – Yonhap News (in Korean)

KOICA emphasizes strengthened ODA cooperation between entities in addition to more funding

Sohn Hyuk-Sang, President of KOICA, highlighted the emergence of more strengthened development cooperation among countries and international organizations during the post-COVID era.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic widened the gap between rich and poor, the need for ODA is rising. President Sohn suggested that the size of ODA is not enough to respond to various challenges, and reiterated that development cooperation should consider the complex dynamics of partner countries and international organizations when disbursing ODA. He also contended that a realistic way to replenish ODA finances would be to expand international community participation and the private sector in ODA, which would put more focus on strengthening cooperation between countries and international organizations.

News article – The Joongang (in Korean)

South Korea could increase contributions to international organizations by 8% in 2023

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) hosted the International Organization Contribution Deliberation Committee for South Korea’s contributions in 2023.

The government members from a total of 38 central government agencies and civilian committee members discussed and finalized the Plan for International Organization Contributions in 2023. A total of 38 central government agencies will request about KRW980 billion (US$774 million) for 2023, an increase of 8% compared to the 2022 budget at KRW910 billion (US$719 million). MOFA will closely work with related ministries and experts to ensure that its contribution would become an effective means of implementing foreign policy and promoting national interests. 

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea should improve agricultural ODA strategy, according to think tank

South Korea’s international agricultural ODA projects need to be improved, according to the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI); KREI critiqued South Korea's policy and strategy for agricultural ODA, saying that it is overgeneralized and does not provide adequate detail.

The KREI critiqued the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in South Korea, claiming that it has not presented key target areas for agricultural ODA and has not come up with improvement measures for a strategy. While the South Korean agricultural ODA budget is increasing, it lacks a detailed strategy. South Korea needs to create a coexisting ecosystem that contributes to South Korea’s national interest along with the development of agricultural and rural areas in recipient countries, according to the Institute.

News article – Naeil (in Korean)

Preliminary 2021 OECD data shows increase in South Korea's ODA, in volume and as percentage of GNI

According to the 2021 preliminary ODA data recently released by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), South Korea’s total ODA was US$2.9 billion and it was nearly 0.2% of GNI, which was an increase of US$610 million from the previous year. This information indicates that South Korea made efforts to meet its latest target of reaching 0.3% of GNI as ODA by 2030. South Korea ranked 15th in terms of ODA volume (it was 16th in 2020) and ranked 25th for ODA/GNI among 29 OECD DAC member states.

The significant increase can be explained by active multilateral cooperation and increasing bilateral assistance. In particular, the South Korean government proactively provided low-income countries with COVID-19 vaccines and supplies. This included a US$100 million commitment to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment mechanism (COVAX AMC), US$190 million in humanitarian assistance, and an emergency loan of US$170 million. South Korea will continuously expand its ODA expenditure by doubling the level compared to 2019 as noted in the government's 3rd Mid-Term Strategy for Development Cooperation.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

News article – Newspim (in Korean)

South Korea and Africa CDC strengthen partnerships on public health

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a cooperative system for the early recognition of and response to future pandemics by controlling and preventing infectious diseases.

They set up a joint action plan that stipulates specific projects for the next three years, including a joint simulation training to strengthen disease monitoring and information sharing. The plan will also pursue new grant projects starting in 2023 to strengthen development cooperation between South Korea and partner countries on the continent.

Press release – Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea reaffirms commitment to global health at COVAX AMC Summit

South Korea’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Choi Jongmoon, participated in the COVAX AMC Summit co-organized by Gavi and Germany.

Vice Minister Choi highlighted South Korea’s efforts to support the global vaccination campaign by increasing the supply of vaccines and training bio and healthcare professionals as the host country of the WHO Bio-manufacturing Workforce Training Hub. South Korea will provide another US$100 million in cash and in-kind contributions as pledged at the G7 Summit in 2021.

Additional information on all Summit donors can be found here

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

News article – Korea (in Korean)

South Korea provides US$1.2 billion concessional loan to Cambodia as symbol of strengthened bilateral friendship

The South Korean government promised to provide an additional US$1.2 billion in economic development cooperation funds to Cambodia from 2022 to 2026.

Koo Yun-cheol, South Korea’s Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC), met with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries. The additional loans will be used for priority sectors, and the two also discussed the upcoming fourth round of official development assistance (ODA) negotiations. This partnership will contribute to strengthening cooperation among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

News article – Dongponews (in Korean)

South Korea strengthens partnerships with Cambodia, Sri Lanka as part of 'New Southern Policy'

Koo Yun-cheol South Korea’s Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC), visited Cambodia and Sri Lanka to strengthen their official development assistance (ODA) cooperation partnerships.

Yun-cheol met with high-level officials from the two countries to discuss potential ODA in the form of grants or loans.

South Korea and Cambodia agreed to expand ODA cooperation to support digitization.

South Korea also aimed to strengthen COVID-19 prevention in Sri Lanka as health-related ODA.

The visit aligned with South Korea’s New Southern Policy which highlights Cambodia and Sri Lanka as priority partners.

News article – News1 (in Korean)

South Korea’s president-elect establishes ODA pledges focusing on domestic interests

The 20th president-elect of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, presented official development assistance (ODA) pledges which prioritize national interests in implementing international development assistance.

People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives (PIDA), a South Korean watchdog CSO, set out predictions for the new president’s international development cooperation policy based on his pledges.

In order to 'pursue diplomacy suitable for national dignity', the president-elect's diplomatic policy will aim to enhance South Korea's dignity on the world stage. Only one pledge specifically mentioned ODA and connected it to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were described vaguely. Suk yeol's ODA policy focuses primarily on improving a country's economic status, which aligns with South Korea's national interest.  

PIDA suggested that a more detailed ODA policy is needed during Suk-yeol's tenure. Suk-yeol’s international development cooperation seems to put national interests first in its agenda, which is concerning for many ODA practitioners.

PIDA also called for South Korea's ODA policy to be as consistent as current President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern and New Northern Policy. 

News article – Ohmynews (in Korean)

South Korea elects new president, plans to make nation bio-health powerhouse; gender equality at stake

Yoon Suk-yeol from the main opposition, People Power Party, was elected as the 20th president of South Korea on March 9, 2022. His presidency will officially start on May 10, 2022, and his term will last five years. Suk-yeol aims to open the era of Korean bio-health and make South Korea a vaccine-medicine powerhouse, by committing to "fairness and common sense".

The new government will fully support global health R&D to establish a global vaccine hub and expand R&D in bio-digital and advanced medical care. Suk-yeol will also set up a “Presidential Committee on Pharmaceutical Bio-Innovation” directly under the Prime Minister, which will coordinate and foster support for the pharmaceutical and bio industries.

However, many are concerned about the president-elect's gender equality agenda. The former conservative prosecutor self-declares as an anti-feminist and called for the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. He has blamed the low birth rate in South Korea on feminism and capitalized on young men's fears about feminism and modest women's rights gains to win votes in the election. He has also stated that he does not believe that gender-based systemic and structural discrimination exists in South Korea. 

News article - Maekyung (in Korean)

News article - TIME

South Korea strengthens partnership with Africa on vaccine development, bioindustry workforce training

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum presented South Korea’s partnership plan to cooperate with multiple countries on the African continent on vaccine development and bioindustry workforce training at the 5th Korea-Africa Forum.

South Korea has been designated as a WHO Global Biomanufacturing Training Hub, aiming to strengthen partnerships to support COVID-19 responses. South Korea committed to providing 3.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as well as a total of US$200 million in support through COVAX to the African Union. This partnership in vaccine development and bioindustry workforce training will boost development cooperation between South Korea and Africa.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

News article – Financial news (in Korean)

South Korea contributes US$10 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), announced that South Korea will provide a total of US$10 million of humanitarian assistance to help Ukraine.

Upon Ukraine’s request, South Korea will send emergency medical supplies such as protective clothing, medical gloves, masks, and blankets to Ukraine as a top priority. Minister Chung condemned Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine for violating international law. He also supported Ukraine’s efforts to resolve the situation peacefully and reaffirmed the South Korean government’s position to actively participate in international efforts including sanctions against Russia. While South Korea continues to communicate with Ukraine for its peaceful resolution, South Korea will strengthen cooperation with Ukraine in the future.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

WHO designates South Korea as WHO Global Biomanufacturing Training Hub

The World Health Organization (WHO) will establish a WHO Global Biomanufacturing Training Hub in South Korea to support low- and middle-income countries in vaccine development, education, and training on vaccine and biopharmaceutical products.

WHO's Secretary-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, announced that South Korea would be selected due to its strategic advantages in vaccine and bioproduction, educational facility infrastructure, and the government's support for and historical success with development programs.

In preparation to host this hub, the South Korean government has organized comprehensive public-private partnerships between companies, universities, and international organizations, enabling 370 individuals in the bio-industry to conduct trainings. South Korea hopes to use the training hub to attract both competent workers and investors in vaccine production and R&D facilities in South Korea.

News article – Chosunilbo (in Korean)

South Korea’s environment ministry expands 'Green New Deal' ODA

South Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MOE) aims to strengthen its 'Green New Deal' official development assistance (ODA) specialized in climate and the environment through contributions to the International Environmental Cooperation Center.

The ODA budget allocated to MOE has increased from US$12 million in 2019 to US$15 million in 2021. Throughout regular public-private strategic meetings, MOE will expand the scale of green new deal ODA projects and diversify environmental ODA into multiple sectors. In particular, MOE aims to increase the proportion of ODA in the climate and environment sector from 19.6% as of 2015-2019 to 28.1% - the average of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

News article – Electronic times (in Korean)

South Korea’s health ministry provides US$4 million to International Vaccine Institute

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) conducted a short-term intensive training program for global bio-industry human resources in 2022 and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has been selected to support those who develop vaccines and work on biopharmaceutical R&D in low- and middle-income countries as well as in South Korea.

MOHW will provide US$4 million to IVI for education and training both offline and online. Secretary-General Jerome Kim of IVI hopes to successfully conduct training by strengthening the capabilities of countries in the development and production of vaccine and biopharmaceutical products with the help of South Korea’s leading bio-production industry. This cooperation between MOHW and IVI will expand its contribution to global health.

News article – Maeil business (in Korean)

KOICA ODA project success in Guatemala inspires GCF to invest US$30 million in projects to restore forests, reduce GHGs

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) helped Guatemala restore 4,311 hectares of forest and reduce 44,196 tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) through a recent climate ODA project.

KOICA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) implemented the ODA project, which began in 2018, with US$7 million in funding. KOICA provided seedlings with fast growth and high marketability for local farmers to increase income without forest damage. In recognition of the project's positive outcome, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) promised to spend US$30 million by 2028 to expand similar ODA projects. GCF's participation will encourage more active collaboration with international organizations. 

News article – Dongponews (in Korean)

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

South Korea and Sweden strengthen bilateral cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines, digital cooperation

The Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) promoted cooperation with Sweden in multiple sectors such as health, economy, and trade. The two countries discussed specific issues such as COVID-19 vaccinations, the bio-health industry, and digital trade.

After signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between AstraZeneca and Korean bio-related associations for US$630 million from 2020 to 2024, South Korea believes it has contributed to the development of the bio-health industry and health improvement including the COVID-19 response. They also plan to host the 1st Korea-Sweden Industrial Cooperation Committee in 2022 to strengthen cooperation in supply chains such as bio-health, future cars, and the digital economy. This cooperation will contribute to stronger strategic partnerships in global health and economy between South Korea and Sweden.

Press release – Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

News article – Korea (in Korean)